Q: Is there a correlation between eating avocados and strengthening one’s fingernails? I never had nice fingernails. They were always soft and splitting. About a year ago, I started eating avocados. Not only do I have stronger fingernails, but my hair is thicker and healthy-looking, despite my years.

A: Avocado (Persea americana) is a uniquely American fruit. Its origins have been traced to Mexico roughly 10,000 years ago.

The nutritional value of avocados is distinctive. They contain ample vitamins C, K and E, and several B vitamins. In addition, the fruit is high in potassium, a mineral that is often low in the American diet.

There is another unique benefit aspect of avocados. They contain lots of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). There was a time when nutrition experts advised against foods with a high fat content. That has changed. Now, nutrition experts recognize that the kinds of fats in nuts, olive oil and avocados are quite healthy. For example, one avocado has about the same MUFA content as 2 tablespoons of olive oil or 1.5 ounces of almonds.

We could find no scientific research demonstrating that avocados can strengthen fingernails. That said, a lot of folk literature supports this concept. Your experience suggests that it just might be true. The healthful fats in avocados may play a role in this effect.

Q: I suffer from hip pain due to osteoarthritis, and I’d like to try the Certo and grape juice home remedy. I cannot tolerate NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief since I am on the blood thinner Eliquis.


When I mixed powdered pectin into the juice, it just clumped into balls and the glop was not drinkable.

What is the best way to make this remedy using liquid Certo? I need details!

A: This remedy goes back many decades. Although there is no scientific study supporting it, we have heard from hundreds of readers that it can be helpful against arthritis pain.

There are several formulas. One involves dissolving a tablespoon of liquid pectin (Certo brand) in 8 ounces of purple grape juice. That is a daily dose.

Other people prefer to take the remedy more frequently, two or three times daily. They mix 2 teaspoons of Certo in 3 ounces of grape juice.

You can get more details about it and other arthritis remedies along with a video on how to make it in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at PeoplesPharmacy.com.


We do have a trick to get powdered pectin into solution. A reader offered these instructions: “Mix 1 teaspoon Pomona’s Universal Pectin with 1/3 cup boiling water in a food processor or blender until the pectin is dissolved. This will give you a liquid pectin that is the same concentration as Certo. It can then be used as a replacement for Certo.” Refrigerate any unused portion.

Q: Is elderberry syrup good for the immune system, and can it be made at home?

A: Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) can be used for a cough that lingers after a viral infection (Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease, Aug. 10, 2021).

If you have elderberries, it isn’t complicated to make a syrup. Mix 2 cups of dried elderberries with 4 cups of pure water and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes and take it off the heat to steep for an hour. Strain and measure the liquid. Add half as much honey as you have liquid and store in the fridge.